Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar and small business owner Rudy Martinez are revving up for a tough two-month run for the Fourteenth District, but it wasn’t that long ago that the two men had a friendship that included early morning workouts, family dinners and a trip to the other side of the world.
Or did they?
Jose Huizar and Rudy Martinez were good friends before they were political opponents, according to Martinez.
Jose Huizar and Rudy Martinez were acquaintances whose professional worlds overlapped, according to Huizar.
The two met in 2006, according to Martinez, or 2007, according to Huizar, when Huizar and some staff members went for dinner at Martinez’s Eagle Rock restaurant, Mia Sushi, according to both men. Huizar and Martinez exchanged phone numbers and struck up a friendship.
As friends, the two worked out together, attending an extreme fitness bootcamp in La Canada and spinning classes in South Pasadena. They traveled to Las Vegas and Israel together, and Huizar and his wife were frequent diners at Mia Sushi (where the shrimp tempura with eel and avocado was named the Huizar Roll) and Martinez’s other restaurant, Marty’s, which was also the site of Huizar’s 2007 swearing-in ceremony.
“We had some great times together,” Martinez said.
Wait, rewind that.
According to Huizar, the two did work out together, but travel? Not so much.
“It was more of a ‘What About Bob?’ incident,” Huizar said.
The councilman was part of a delegation of Latino elected officials from California and Arizona who went to Israel with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Martinez was in the country on a separate trip, according to Huizar.
As for Las Vegas, Huizar says he and his wife were there for a quick getaway. Again, Martinez was there.
“He went alone and he hung out with us,” according to Huizar
The councilman did host his 2007 reelection swearing-in at Marty’s, but denied that he frequented Mia Sushi because of any friendship with its owner.
“We would go eat there but, you know, of all the restaurants in Eagle Rock, there were other restaurants there that my wife and I would go to more often like Camillo’s, the Coffee Table. We go to a lot of different restaurants and whenever we go eat as a family or as a couple, we try to eat in the district,” Huizar said.
Rudy wasn’t the only Martinez to have a connection to Huizar. Martinez’s mother, Juanita, worked for the CD14 office starting with Councilman Richard Alatorre and staying on through the terms of Nick Pacheco, Antonio Villaraigosa and Huizar. She retired in 2010.
The Huizar-Martinez friendship ended in 2008. At the time, Huizar had been fined $14,818 by the city Ethics Commission for accepting donations from registered lobbyists and using his officeholder account to pay for information on a member on the school board. That second violation occurred during the 12-month blackout period prior to Huizar’s reelection.
According to Martinez, Huizar called him up and said he needed Rudy to help him get the money to pay those fines.
“It seemed like most of the calls I got from him were either wanting something or wanting to come over for dinner or just something for him,” Martinez said. “We just at that point stopped talking.”
Huizar denies that that situation ever took place.
“I don’t recall that, no,” he said.
According to Huizar, Martinez stopped returning his phone calls. Why did the friendship end?
“I don’t know, you’ll have to ask (Martinez),” he said.
And now, the former friends – friends? – find themselves in a fight over the council seat.
“I would say we were acquaintances. I meet a lot of people as a council member and I would say we were acquaintances,” Huizar said.
“I think Jose has had an incredible opportunity as the ‘Golden Boy’ to do some incredible things here in CD14 and I think a lot of people had high hopes for him. I did and I think a lot of people did, and I think he failed at that,” Martinez said.
The election will be held on March 8.